A sobering reminder: The retreat of the Neumayer glacier

As we approached Neumayer (and nearby Lyell) glaciers, we realised that the charts indicated we were navigating on land. The glacier front was still over a mile away, but were already several miles “inland” according to the charts made in 2001.

3rd of September 2013, King Edward Point:

What a day!!! It’s two in the morning and I am exhausted, but what a day… First thing this morning at 9am was to go out and collect those lines with traps I deployed yesterday. The pull up went incredibly smoothly this time, adding polystyrene to the traps definitely made things easier. However, to my disappointment, there were no fish larvae in any of the traps…. There were a few shrimp in the ones at 60m and 40m, and a few pelagic crustaceans in some other traps, but no fish larvae in any of them.

Then after coffee break, by which time everyone on base knew I had finally caught the larvae, I got together with Dan, Joe and Erny to discuss setting up the aquarium. After a while we finally agreed on a procedure. So off we went, Joe to sort out the temperature of the room, Erny and Dan to connect the pipe and bring sea water to the aquarium and me to figure out all the connections, taps and filtering steps in the aquarium. A few head scratches and a good thorough wash later, the aquarium was ready to be filled up.


I was having sooooo much fun with the whole thing. The water finally started pumping up at the aquarium by lunch time, after which I started playing with all the pumps, and sumps and starting all the filters and filling all the tanks… Soooooooo much fun!!! But the water was bloody freezing!! Finally by 5pm all the tanks were full so we could stop the filling pump. Some of the pumps in the protein skimmer didn’t seems to be working, I tried starting them several times, blowing air down the airpipes, tapping them… noup… still not working, so I opened the pumps, and found that the propellers were covered in this sticky greasy stuff. It was disgusting… so after I checked with the techies that there was no particular reason why such mess should be in the propellers I proceeded to clean them up. Apparently someone had “greased” the propellers with silicone grease!!!! No wonder there was oily stuff floating around in one of the tanks. After a good deep scrub and wash, the pumps were up and running again.

And after all the excitement of setting up the aquarium, I then had to set up the lights out off the pier to attract those larvae. And sure enough after dinner, there they were, swimming around. I have been there lying horizontal on the snow, with an aquarium dip-net on my hand, picking fish larvae from 9 till 12:30… It’s been quite a lot of fun, though my hands froze off a couple of time, which wasn’t that much fun. Catching stuff like this reminds me of when I was a kid, and I use to spend my summers catching tadpoles with my cousins at my grandma’s pond. It was soooo much fun. I’ll never forget looking at those little black blobs with eyes, which sometimes had little feet and tiny arms poking out… Back then it was hard to believe that one day those black blobs would become those noisy frogs and toads that fill up summer nights. Today, what I find mindboggling is that now that I am an adult I am doing the same things than when I was a child: dip-netting and setting up tanks… only now it’s my job!

After three and a half hours in freezing cold, I’ve got about 25 larvae now in the aquarium. Let’s see if they are alive tomorrow morning!!!